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Age of Empires Heaven » Forums » Age of Empires / Rise of Rome / Definitive Edition » The Qualities of a Good Player
Topic Subject:The Qualities of a Good Player
posted 12-31-98 11:41 AM ET (US)         
I FOUND IT!!! - But I don't have it

I found what makes a good player and distinguishes it from the less good player.

After being so frustrated with my whimpiness, I HAD to know why - which, in turn, taught me the opposite: what makes the good player.

Please note, this is NOT "HOW" to do these things - if I knew, I would be DOING them, LOL!...

This is a enumeration only.

The proportions in which these different factors intervene are also something I could not obviously find much about (would need to be much closer to the winners to find out...).

So, here goes, in the order I personally think that is more determinant, but the list is really what matters:

Things required (in varying scale and proportion) to be a very good AoE / RoR player.


Meaning the ability to CONSTANTLY DISTRIBUTE ATTENTION, AWARENESS and ACTION through a wide spatial matrix, in a very narrow timeframe.

The player should be able to execute simultaneously at least two different tasks going on in at least two different places of the playing field. Obviously, the expert will be able to perfectly monitor and act upon three and more simultaneous events.
This quality applies not only to "pre-programmed" tasks, but also at the level of mere attention: being able to constantly monitor all areas of possible problems, like menaces to Villagers - even when enemy presence is not detected - points of passage, depleted resources, idle Villagers, level of enemy forces in more than one spot, etc., etc. The ability to dedicate attention to any particular area is considered a "task" for this purpose - and the most important in RTS games, too.
One of the most forgotten "tasks" is the ability to monitor enemy situation. Sometimes I notice that good players never seem to quit important activities to attend others - while still caring to all of them.

IMO, this "awareness" and the accompanying "speed of response" is the most striking factor, the one that most contributes to differentiate an elite player.

I remember that once, while passivelly watching Dustyn perform the traditional Yamato Cav rush, I was completelly lost and unable to follow all the action, because he was scrolling and making things happen all over the place. The speed of jumping from here to there was dazzling - and in not one second was Dustyn the least confused. The beach was explored maybe 20 or 30 tiles in each direction, the enemy camp was found, storage pits were laid, berries picked and more than a dozen of 50-cost villagers created in just the first 3 or so minutes of the game. Whew!... Later, during the attack (the opponent's workers and assets were distributed in a 30-tile deep camp (not an easy task to hunt those fast villagers so spread out), not a single aspect of the economy back home was being neglected - more berries and shore fish were activelly sought, found and explored - all at the same time that the action was being taken to the enemy.

Simultaneous (or almost) activity throughout the board is the hallmark of expertise.


Competence is made of:

a) Deep knowledge all the fundamental aspects of the game (what, when, how and why).

b) Achieving a respectable level of execution through continuous practice.

The good players DOMINATE all the BASICS (even without thinking) and KNOW about even the intricate details of the determining factors in the game.
They are, furthermore, able to EXECUTE those routines without hesitation and in the proper context.

The debated stuff about "build orders" has ignored the fundamental aspect of it: a build order is a "probability-oriented" method of achieving an end. It mechanizes and makes efficient both the execution and the decision.
Example: You look at your TC and, just for the presence / absence of the required number of stragglers, determine if Celestial Dawn's "Crappy bronze" tactics are feasible or not. Imediatelly, you orient scouting to find a remedy for the perceived problem (by fetching "forest near TC" or close enough shore fish, or a sweet spot with forest/stragglers and shore fish), or to boost the probable avantage (by fetching shore fish near forest/stragglers, or plain old berries).
You CAN make these decisions almost instantly because you ALREADY know those basics and that knowledge provides you with a "free" mental slot to design and evaluate a possible general strategy for the game at hand.

The reason why good players and experts learn about the game is because it makes the minutes that they spend THINKING about the game more worthwhile than just figure out the same old routine for the "nth" time.

To achieve this result, good players will both learn and practice constantly.

Here, the difference between "competetent" and "expert" players is clear: Experts INVESTIGATE and CREATE new strategies, tactics and "build orders".

While the good / very good player is a great executant of true and proven methods, the true expert continuously questions even the acquired "evidence" and comes up with new stuff - or with the deep knowledge of why and how things are what they are in the game.


Yes, this is quite ovious, but not as influential and important as Multitasking and Competence.

It will just enhance and maximize those two great traits while they come to life in the battle field.

Dexterity, defined as great eye-hand coordination mixed with precision and lack of hesitation, is like the ointment in the wheel. It does not make it roll, it only makes the rolling smoother and the wheel last longer...

Dexterity increases its role with lag. With lag, every movement and every click that you make get coupled with a "forecasted outcome" and a "no-fail" demand. Your order to the unit must be so timed that initiation and completion of the desired action occurs in the forecasted lag factor. Everybody is aware of the drama of trying to save your HA from the unexpected greetings by Catapult boulders...


Now, we have players that are not tactically very clever and they end up being tops.
They master all the aspects of the game and can gain economic advantages that will, in turn, end up translating into military advantage.

The experts, however, are far more aggressive and flexible.

The experts have learned how to imaginate, design and execute an ALTERNATIVE tactical master plan for the game on the fly.

Starting with a generically applicable aggression and logistics support pattern, the expert is able to change the base pattern of his game to adapt and be responsive to changes in the enemy way of doing things.

An expert will change his weapon mix after the first few failures, so that he can fight you. People with less tactical sense will insist longer in a defeated course of action.


IMHO, what defines a good player and an expert is the presence of these pilars of RTS gameplay:

1. Multitasking abilities, which include both attention and action to many points in the board at the same time.

2. Competence, made of knowing what to do in each situation and swifness at doing it, qualities only possible to acquire by means of study and practice.

3. Dexterity, the ideal complement of multitasking.

4. Tactical acumen, the ability to correctly evaluate the situation and devise alternate tactical plans based on the actual game situation and balance.

posted 12-31-98 01:05 PM ET (US)     1 / 6       
that basically covers all of it

that's why blizzard listened to all of the top ladder players that played SC, they knew 1000 times more HOW to play the game than the game designers did.

End result, 3 balanced races (albeit in a boring game)

i'll compare it to chess, even though i suck at chess. if you use ALL the pieces in concert you'll do much better than if you dont know what you're doing (me) and keep trying to checkmate the other guys king with your queen after 5 moves

posted 12-31-98 03:11 PM ET (US)     2 / 6       
Your_old friend

Very well done. Maybe people know this already, but this is the best I've seen it laid out.


Well, then dont do that! (with your queen!) just like a heavy cat it needs support from the minor pieces. Dont take this as a flame man! Just wanted to try out a Lee Trevino joke.

Best wishes and happy new year.


F Smith
posted 12-31-98 05:26 PM ET (US)     3 / 6       
On the nose.

But I would emphasize *practice* even more than you did. Playing AoE/RoR many hours a week is the single biggest factor in determining skill, in my opinion. Expert players that don't play for a month find their skill deteriorate.

And that, in a nutshell, is why MP AoE/RoR and other real-time video-game versions of empire builders will always only appeal to a limited number of gamers.

It's a specific type of gamer that likes/has time for that kind of thing.

Most of the gamers I know won't even bother with a game that is over in a few hours. Not enough depth to it.

Now, MP *scenarios*, and campaigns, can be *quite* another story . . .

de Maupassant
posted 12-31-98 06:41 PM ET (US)     4 / 6       
Kleitus said something about three balanced races in Starcraft.

Well, I found an interesting information about SC players' choice and races from Forum a few weeks ago.

Somebody said something like this: "... Out of 20 Starcraft top players, 18 of them played Zerg and only 2 played Protoss. Those 2 players are ranked in the middle of the whole 20. And none played Terran at all."

Sounds a lot like Shang/Phoenicia in AoE/RoR to me .

posted 12-31-98 06:53 PM ET (US)     5 / 6       
Is it cause of the zerg rush?

But kleitus's point is that blizzard is more responsive to their fans. ES can either be really great or they can be really undecent. They knew about the shang problem, not only from the ST guys but im sure other beta testers caught it too...but they didnt care. That is what makes me mad. If blizzard were planning an expansion to add 2 new races, and the players found one race to be dominant, blizzard would at least make an attempt to patch it if it was too late, or they would delay release and fix it the right way.

ES had a set date to release the game, and they still released it earlier than planned. Kleitus may have been a bit loud-mouthed, but it is no fun to have someone ask for your opinion and then just not accept it.

If I was in their shoes over at ES, I would have to make a decision. Do I listen to a bunch of guys who created the game, or the ppl who play the game daily and know more about balancing than anyone working in my company ever could. Which would you go with if you were faced with that decision?

Even tho ive never met kleitus, and will agree that he went about doing things the wrong way, he seems like an ok guy and I know where he is coming from when he badmouths companies like ES/MS...

posted 12-31-98 06:54 PM ET (US)     6 / 6       
but hey guys lets try to keep the thread on-topic ok?

great post Your_Old_Friend...

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